2005 Tokyo Show: Last Words

October 23, 2005

TCC's Auto Show Index by TCC Team (10/3/2005)
Our coverage of the world's major auto shows, year to year.

2005 Tokyo Motor Show Index by TCC Team (10/18/2005)



Best New Concept: I have a handful of concepts that really impressed me, amidst all of Tokyo ’s traditional goofy-mobiles. There was the beautiful Giugiaro-designed Ferrari GG-150, the intriguing Mini Tokyo Concept, and the significant Lexus LF-Sh, the thinly-disguised replacement for the next-generation LS sedan. But if judged in terms of the concept I can’t wait to actually get inside of, my pick would be the Nissan GT-R Proto. It’s 80-90 percent of the car that will hit the road in 2007, according to chief designer Shiro Nakamura. Even if it wasn’t going to be built, you’d have still had a stand full of photographers giddily snapping pics of this show car.

Best New Production Car: I just spent the last fifteen minutes going over the coverage TCC posted last week to ensure I didn’t miss anything. It only reinforced the question: where are the production vehicles? A surprisingly few new products actually went on display at a show dominated by concepts. Yes, that’s the hallmark of the biennial event, but even fewer production models made it onto the stand this time. With that in mind, two likely production vehicles split this award: the Audi Shooting Brake, which will likely become the next TT, and the Honda Accord prototype, the Sports 4.

2005 Kia Sedona

2005 Kia Sedona

Enlarge Photo
Most Significant Production Vehicle: Yes, it’s still a concept, but my pick is the LF-Sh. Already the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S., Lexus needs to go global, and the production version of the LS is the vehicle the Toyota division will depend on as it launches the Lexus badge globally.

Best Press Conference: How many CEOs do you know who can provide their own entertainment during a news conference. Kudos to Dieter Zetsche, the DaimlerChrysler exec who belies German rigidity, for pulling out his violin and letting it wail during the debut of the Mercedes-Benz F600.

Worst Press Conference: The non-launch of the gorgeous Giugiaro GG-150 concept coupe, buried in a corner of West Hall at the Bridgestone stand. Why wasn’t it the centerpiece of the Ferrari news conference, itself a real non-starter? Dishonorable mention to the chest-puffing Hyundai newser, with its breathless, self-promotional videos. We got the message, thanks.

Who's On Top: The easy answer is Toyota , and no one would be able to argue against that pick. They control half the Japanese market, and are rapidly aiming to overtake the global number one, General Motors. But by several other measures, ranging from profit margins to sheer exuberance, Nissan is the one to watch. It may not be able to topple Toyota , so Nissan has gone and found its own hill to rule.

Who's In The Barrel: Imports. Is it Toyota’s overwhelming dominance? Japan’s subtle import barriers? A nation of xenophobic buyers? Or simply the inability of foreign manufacturers to “crack the code”? Whatever the reason, while imports now control about half the American market, foreign makers can barely climb, collectively, into the double-digit range in Japan.

Personal Best: It’s not a car. It’s an executive — Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, to be specific. Exactly six years to the day after announcing the Nissan Revival Plan, the multicultural man was back on the speaker’s podium, introducing a range of new products and concepts. Six years ago, Ghosn was heading up the company everyone agreed was least likely to survive — remember Bob Lutz suggesting Renault take its $6 billion investment, buy a barge full of gold and sink it in the middle of the ocean? — now Ghosn’s setting benchmarks that even Toyota has to watch carefully.

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